Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday again urged Californians to continue following stay-at-home orders, resisting pressure from demonstrators who have called for the state’s economy to reopen during a series of protests in the past few days.
His comments came as California saw another increase in every significant coronavirus category in the past 24 hours. That includes the number of coronavirus deaths, which rose 5% from the previous day, bringing the total to 1,268, Newsom said.
“If we all pull back, we could see a second wave that makes this pale in comparison,” Newsom warned in an interview on CBS This Morning.
He said the state simply hasn’t seen the significant decline in COVID-19 patients in intensive care needed for the state to ease coronavirus restrictions. The number has fluctuated over the past week, but increased nearly 4% from the previous day.
A time frame for easing restrictions, however, has not yet been given, but the governor continues to concede that a return to normal anytime soon would be “unrealistic.”
During his daily briefing, the governor acknowledged people’s desire to reopen the state, which he said has been manifested not just by demonstrations, but also through “appropriate queries” from counties, including Ventura, San Luis Obispo and Placerville.
Everyone has a different timeline,” he said.
Counties do have the ability to make those decisions, as long as they don’t “contravene or conflict” with the state’s guidance, according to Newsom. And if counties try and get ahead of the guideline, “We’ll try to encourage them to pull back,” he said.
But the fact that the number of coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations in California have all jumped percentage-wise over the past 24 hours is reason enough to keep the current measures in place, according to the governor.
“I caution those, including local election officials, that practicing physical distancing has worked to keep those numbers relatively modest in terms of growth, but if we pull back too quickly, those numbers will go through the roof,” Newsom said.
Last week, the governor outlined a road map to recover that included six key areas the state would have to meet in order for coronavirus regulations to be relaxed.
He said he would provide an update at Wednesday’s briefing on each of the categories, but will focus on the first one outlined: that is, expanded testing for COVID-19, as well as the ability to track, trace, quarantine and isolate individuals who test positive for, or are exposed to, the virus.
California currently tests more than 14,500 people a day for the coronavirus, but Newsom expressed confidence that the figure will exceed the state’s goal of 25,000 per day by the end of the month.
But he cautioned that even that number would still be inadequate to start modifying restrictions, explaining that — among other ideas — some experts believe a minimum of 1% of California’s 40 million residents would be needed to be tested on a weekly basis, while others say that figure needs to be met daily.
But even apart from enhanced testing, tracing and tracking, daily life in the Golden State will look different until the pandemic ends. Newsom on Tuesday once again stated that Californians should expect to wear masks in public, have their temperature routinely taken and see radically different floor plans in schools and businesses once stay-at-home measures are relaxed.
Ultimately, for life to go back to normal, one of three things would need to happen: a vaccine would need to be in place; herd immunity would need to be established; or an effective treatment or treatments must be readily available.
“I don’t anticipate that normalcy that many of wish for happening any time soon,” he told CBS News. “But we will begin to toggle back … and begin to change the way we currently are conducting ourselves from a full lockdown stay-at-home order to one that is more prescriptive, targeted and strategized.”